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“The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter” – Repeating Islands

Soraya Palmer, who identifies as Trinidadian/Jamaican-American, published The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts in March 2023 (Catapult Books). [Excuse our delay in giving it the attention it deserves! We made a brief mention in our previous post, Books-about-hauntings-by-black-women-writers.]

Daphne Palasi Andreades (author of Brown Girls) describes it: “Playful and deft, Palmer’s debut novel spans the brownstones of Brooklyn to the shores of Jamaica and Trinidad, and Tobago. This is a tale that honors the complicated love between immigrant families, the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood, and, above all, the infinite power of storytelling: to haunt, heal, and conjure entire universes into existence.”

Description: Bearing witness to their father’s violence and their mother’s worsening illness, an unsettled Zora escapes into her journal, dreaming of being a writer, while Sasha discovers sex and chest binding, spending more time with her new girlfriend than at home.

But the sisters, like their parents, must come together to answer to something more ancient and powerful than they know—and reckon with a family secret buried in the past. A tale told from the perspective of a mischievous narrator, featuring the Rolling Calf who haunts butchers, Mama Dglo who lives in the ocean, a vain tiger, and an outsmarted snake, The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter and Other Essential Ghosts is set in a world as alive and unpredictable as Helen Oyeyemi’s.

Telling of the love between sisters who don’t always see eye to eye, this extraordinary debut novel is a celebration of the power of stories, asking, What happens to us when our stories are erased? Do we disappear? Or do we come back haunting?

SORAYA PALMER is a Flatbush-born-and-raised writer and licensed social worker who advocates for survivors of gender-based violence who are facing criminal charges related to their abuse. She has been awarded a residency at Blue Mountain Center and interviewed for her work against police brutality, gentrification, and violence in The New York Times and BuzzFeed News. She lives in New York.

For more information, see https://books.catapult.co/bookauthor/soraya-palmer/ and https://www.amazon.com/Origins-Beatrice-Porter-Essential-Ghosts/dp/1646220951

Also see https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/28/books/review/the-human-origins-of-beatrice-porter-and-other-essential-ghosts-soraya-palmer.html

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